When Mark Connell decided to transform the restaurant space above his Nolita dive, Botanica, into an upscale wine bar, he drafted a fine-dining dream team: former Blue Hill at Stone Barns beverage director Thomas Carter and Uruguayan chef Ignacio Mattos, last seen pushing culinary envelopes with his gleefully unfettered fare at Isa. For their new Estela, the trio have taken inspiration from European trendsetters like Manfreds & Vin in Copenhagen, Le Verre Volé in Paris, and Barcelonas iconic tapas bar, Cal Pep. But the local influence emerges in a free-spirited menu of sharing plates with global accents: The hams are American; the beef tartare is dressed with fish sauce; the hanger steak is garnished with spelt and anchovies. There are craft beers and $13 cocktails (the Valuable Lesson melds rum, Campari, and Madeira), and Carters by-the-glass wine selection ranges from a $7 Godello (a Spanish white) to a $22 grower Champagne. The bottle list is organized by country, with a heavy emphasis on French wines made with minimal intervention.
Estela, 47 E. Houston St., nr. Mulberry St.; 212-219-7693
*This article originally appeared in the June 17, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.